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Old 11-25-2007, 08:30 PM   #1
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Default Pirates inquire about Clement

Pirates inquire about Clement
Free agent coming off shoulder surgery
Sunday, November 25, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pirates are one of six teams to have contacted free-agent starter Matt Clement, a Butler native returning from shoulder surgery, but it is far from certain they will be a serious bidder.

Toronto, San Diego, Cleveland, Arizona and Colorado also have contacted Clement's agent, Barry Axelrod, with the Blue Jays apparently stressing Clement as a priority. All those teams will have higher payrolls than the Pirates in 2008.

It is likely that Clement will receive one-year offers, typical for pitchers fresh off surgery, and that he will not come close to his most recent salary of $6 million.

Clement, 33, last pitched in June 2006 for Boston. He had surgery to repair three tears in his right shoulder that September. It was not until two months ago that he retook the mound for simulated games and in the Florida Instructional League. Axelrod has assured teams Clement is ready to pitch immediately.

Clement's career mark is 87-86 with a 4.47 ERA with a career-best 13-6 record for Boston in 2005.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, unavailable for comment yesterday, reiterated earlier in the week that the team will not be active in free agency but left open the possibility of signing inexpensive players.

NOTES -- The Pirates signed catcher Michel Hernandez to a minor-league contract. Hernandez, 29, batted .276 with four home runs and 19 RBIs last season for Class AAA Durham in Tampa Bay's system. ... Yasuhiko Yabuta, a Japanese reliever on the Pirates' inquiry list, reached agreement with Kansas City on a two-year deal worth more than $5 million.

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